Monday, May 19, 2008

Senator Ted Kennedy and my Grandson

My grandson, Dat, has something in common with Sen. Ted Kennedy. They both had seizures last weekend.

Four years had passed since Dat's last seizure. I thought he had outgrown them. His doctors must have thought so, too, because he's been off meds now for about two years. But his epilepsy returned with a vengeance early Friday morning. Amazingly, this attack occurred in his sleep, and was severe enough to wake his mother.

I had been with him Thursday night. I blew off a Northampton County Council meeting to take him to baseball practice. After that was over, he and several team mates waltzed over to Northwest Little League's well-manicured fields, ostensibly to watch two other teams play. Instead, they spent most of their time playing "red butt" with a tennis ball. They had a blast and no one seemed to mind.

When I left him that night, I had no idea his next trip would be in an ambulance.

He's been in ambulances and helicopters so many times he should have a discount card. Born with a perforated intestine that led to all sorts of nasty complications and very nearly killed him, he spent most of his first six months in a hospital. Two weeks after his release, he was rushed back with pneumonia.

After that, the seizures started.

An eight-year old stoic, Dat never dwells on these unlucky breaks. He just moves on. That's what he did this past weekend. On Saturday, he spent most of the day on a baseball diamond, hitting and fielding balls with reckless abandon. Just watching made me tired. After that was over, he insisted we take his five pound dog, Suki, to Jacobsburg Park, where they both romped and raced each other for over an hour in a steady drizzle.

I caught hell for that.

Saturday night, I noticed something odd. Suki usually sleeps at about twenty different spots when she's with me. Not this time. Everytime I looked in on Dat, she was curled up right next to him.

On Sunday, I was a little more responsible, and we stayed indoors while it rained. I taught Dat how to cheat at cards. We also talked politics (he loves Obama). But when the sun finally broke, he was outside again, this time working on pitches while Suki chased birds (she's smart, but still hasn't figured out they can fly).

The Epilepsy Foundation reports that 300,000 American children under the age of 14 have epilepsy. So Dat is by no means alone. I'm no stoic. I complain about everything, especially when it happens to me. Still, it tears me apart to see any child suffer, especially when it's without apparent cause.

Tonight, Dat will be playing in a baseball game. I don't think he learns anything from me. It's the other way around.

13 comments:

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

What a tough little guy your grandson is! I'm glad he's home and back to being a kid again and hope that's the last time he and your family have to go through such an ordeal.

Thank you for sharing this very personal life lesson. I think it was the best posting I've read of yours to date.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Poor little guy. I hope he is okay.
Life can be so unpredictable.

Gort said...

Good luck to the little guy. My wife and I both have members of our families with epilepsy so we know what you're dealing with.

Valima said...

Your grandson looks like a porcelain doll. He is gorgeous! My brother too suffers from a siezure disorder. He went 11 or so years before having one again in his early 20s. Having irregular seizures, aside from the obvious, is a double edged sword. If you take medication for years on end, you may not know if it is the medicine working, or if you are simply lack seizures. In that case, one may be unnecessarily medicating themselves with such strong medication. If you don't take medication, and suffer from irregular grand mal seizures, you are playing with fire.

In any event, I'm glad he's ok. Keep an eye on the dog around Dat! That sixth sense animals have can sometimes be a life saver.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Valima,

Thanks for saying such nice things. My grandson is gorgeous bc he is not biologically related to me.

I appreciate your advice, especially about Dat's dog. She does seem to have a sixth sense and she should be near him.

She's a tough little girl, too. When she was just a few weeks old, she had to be operated on to remove a penny that had lodged itself in her intestine. She nearly died, too. Like Dat, she has a big scar across her stomach.

Anonymous said...

God bless him, Bernie. Sometimes, the guts kids like Dat show make you believe in the future of the human race.

Pamela Varkony said...

Bernie,

Looks like both our families are "taking their turn in the barrel".

Dat is a beautiful and brave little boy with a grandfather, biological or not, who obviously adores him.

You two are lucky to have each other.

WhetherVain said...

Bernie, that thing about the dog. Don't think you watch much TV, but there was a program (on 60 minutes?) about this dog doing the equivalent of a DOUBLE BLIND type test.

This dog, when let into a room filled with bowls of urine, would successfully identify - amongst all of the bowls (10+) - and lay down next to the bowl containing the urine of a known CANCER patient.

The amazing part of the story is that during another session of these trials, the dog laid down next to the bowl containing the urine of the scientist conducting the study. He was understandably frustrated with this outcome - which reflected negatively on the reliability of this animal experiment.

The scientist then discovered that INDEED he DID have cancer. What a dog!

I wish Dat well with his life challenges.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
I'll be sure to keep Dat in my prayers this week .Don't forget about the Irom Pigs this weekend
Mike

Bernie O'Hare said...

WhetherVain,

I've heard that dogs (and other animals) can sense things like cancer, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. But they're never bothered by farts. No wonder they are man's best friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm a diabetic on insulin.

Hypoglycemia is a constant threat to all folks taking insulin. Especially dangerous are lows that occur during the night.

On 4 different occasions, my dog awakened me when my blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels.

According to my physician, such behavior is not unheard of - but nobody knows how the dogs do it.

Anonymous said...

We're praying for your grandson. Let's hope this is the last one he experiences.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks to one and all. I'll print out these comments and give them to Dat's mother.